M&S to bank on data as Sparks card comes to fore

M&S apes Waitrose for loyalty roll out newMarks & Spencer is planning to ramp up its investment in data-driven marketing by ploughing more resources behind its Sparks loyalty scheme, chief executive Steve Rowe has revealed.
The company, which announced a major store closure programme earlier this week on the back of an 88% fall in pre-tax profits to £25.1m, launched Sparks in October last year.
Speaking to analysts, Rowe said: “Five million people now have a Sparks card and it gives us a completely different type of marketing. Rather than increase the overall cost of marketing, Sparks will allow us to keep it down and do more direct marketing. It is also a channel that lets us get closer to our customers and understand their habits and what it is they want.”
Rowe first hinted that a data-driven approach was on the cards back in April, when he said: “We want to use Sparks as a tool to reach out to our customers and to inform all of our new marketing campaigns. It will enable us to improve and have even deeper insight into how our customers are thinking and shopping.”
Based on the MyWaitrose and MyJohnLewis approach – rather than the Clubcard scheme – Sparks members get tailor-made offers across food, fashion, home and beauty, as well as priority access to new season previews and “sale” products, and invitations to special events.
Customers collect 10 points for every £1 spent as well as extra points if they leave an online product review or donate old clothes to charity through the retailer’s Shwop programme.

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